Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gambling on International Law and IP

It looks like Antigua has beaten the US Government fair and square and at the Appellate level of the WTO on the latter's prohibition of offshore online gambling. See the story here in NYT.

Apparently, the US got nailed on issues such as not treating foreign online gambling sites in the same way it treats its own. Sounds like "national treatment" to me, but I must say I haven't yet read the decision.

Here's the link to the WTO material to get started on this case.

The really interesting angle is that Antigua is threatening to retaliate by suspending its application to the USA of international IP law (i.e. the TRIPS agreement), since there isn't much else that Antigua could do that the USA would ever notice. According to the WTO site:

On 21 June 2007, Antigua and Barbuda requested authorization from the DSB, pursuant to Article 22.2 of the DSU, to suspend the application to the United States of concessions and related obligatins of Antigua and Barbuda under the GATS and the TRIPS Agreement. On 23 July 2007, the United States (i) objected to the level of suspension of concessions and obligations proposed by Antigua and Barbuda and (ii) claimed that Antigua and Barbuda's proposal does not follow the principles and procedures set forth in Article 22.3 of the DSU. At its meeting on 24 July 2007, the DSB agreed that the matter referred to by the United States be referred to arbitration.
(emphasis added)

This is potentially a really serious situation for the USA. See the comments in the NYT from serious experts like John Jackson and Charles Nesson.

And the USA is still flouting the WTO s. 110 ruling.

People who live in glass houses....

Is Antigua about to become The Mouse that Roared?

(which is one of the best movies of all times, starring Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers, and Peter Sellers)

Or another movie called Casablanca comes to mind:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!
Or, maybe the USA will simply "Send The Marines"...



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  2. Interesting blog. I think that Antigua has won the battle with the U.S. over online gambling and the U.S. will need to think long and hard before they go after any gambling companies.